So this week, I got to sit in on a Krsytal's photo shoot with Carlos Garcia, this really amazing food photographer in Atlanta, GA.
One of his other food shots.... I think for Cinnabon... looks amazing
For those of you who don't know, Krystal's a fast food restaurant in the US. They specialize in serving small square burgers, kinda like sliders. They're starting to sell more, like wings and desserts, which is why Carlos had to photograph them for ads.
I'm still so grateful that he let me come and sit in. I helped them out and tried to absorb as much as I could. Everyone was so so nice, they didn't complain at all about me wandering around and asking dumb questions... at least I hope they didn't! I got to help the food stylists prepare the food and pick out the best items for the shoot.
(Parts of the studio.. his place is huge!)
I was bummed because on the first day, I forgot to bring my camera! That was definitely the more colorful day... we did a brownie, a strawberry parfait, and a strawberry shortcake. We also did chicken wings and fries. Yesterday we did biscuits all day. It was pretty intense. The biscuits arrived rather square but the higher-ups at Krystal's decided they wanted the biscuits to look round, so the food stylist spent a long time whittling down the sides... It looked pretty excruciating. It's like working on a sculpture! A very delicate perishable edible sculpture..
Painting butter onto the food to make it look shiny and tasty
Basically there's the photographer, his assistant, two food stylists, and then the clients (the acct exec from the ad agency and the Krystal's people). The account executive tells the photographer/food stylist what he wants to see... He might even sketch it out. They make a stand-in for it and then the final finished product is called the "Hero". Then they take a bunch of pics and study them for several minutes. Only when he thinks it's perfect, he calls the clients over (they're usually just chilling in the next room) and they have the final say. It was pretty fun, and long. You can spend all your time working on it only to find they don't like the look. At that point, parts of the food might be losing its luster, or breaking apart with all the handling so you might need to reassemble or even start over! The attention to detail is crazy. They noticed the tiniest stuff, like the way the bacon was lit by the camera in the far right back corner... And those food stylists have so much patience. They did such an amazing job.
Sketches of the food
I spent the most time with the food stylists. They have so many tools, pretty much like artists. They use paintbrushes to add crumbs to the brownie, or to paint the color onto a sausage. It was very cool. I helped to bake the biscuits (they have to be undercooked) and to pick out the most perfect strawberries for the dessert shots. They have to cook so much food to have back-ups. For one brownie picture, they had to find at least 10 brownies that are "heroes". At least they take the uncooked food to the shelters in the area. They do have to throw away everything they cook. It made me sad, but then again, I can't eat 50 undercooked deep fried chicken wings :(
Plain biscuit shot
Ready for its close-up!
I would totally get fat at these shoots though. For being fast food, the brownie was ridiculously yummy... and the strawberries were so great. The food stylist made breakfast for everyone, and they even ordered Sublime donuts one morning! Both days, the photographer provided lunch for everyone and snacks all day long. I know it's a food shoot but I really wasn't sure how it was going to be. I almost packed a lean cuisine but I'm glad I didn't!
The breakfast the food stylist made fresh
Snacks kept out all day
Hopefully I'll get to go to more of these... and possibly a TV commercial shoot someday!
In the meantime, this experience was so awesome, and I'm so so glad I got to do it... Definitely learned a lot of food syling and photography tips.